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Introduction to the theme of Flowers for Algernon

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1 Introduction to the theme of Flowers for Algernon
Selective Reduction

2 Could this really happen in real life?
Introduction The main character in Flowers for Algernon is a mentally- retarded adult male named Charlie. He is selected to be the “guinea pig” for an experimental surgery because the doctors consider him “expendable.” Could this really happen in real life? It happens every day.

3 Quality of Life Every day doctors, emergency personnel, and families decide who is “expendable.” This is usually determined based on the expected “quality of life” of the “expendable” person. The fireman only has time to save one person from the burning house The doctor chooses which one of the seriously injured soldiers is most likely to thrive as a result of having an operation The police and paramedics decide which of the accident victims to save The parent decides which conjoined twin to save

4 Every day YOU look at different people and decide who is “worth” listening to, getting to know, and being friends with based on the “value” you place on their life.

5 Life Boat Theory Imagine that you were on a ship that has just sunk. You managed to make it to the last life boat. However, there are 9 people on the life boat that is only designed for four. So, 5 people have to either voluntarily get off the life boat or be thrown overboard by a majority rule. Getting off the life boat means certain death. Your assignment is to decide who should remain on the life boat. The following is a list of the 9 people on board: A 17 year-old, mentally-retarded girl An infant whose parents died when the ship sank A 30 year-old genius A 50 year-old who doesn’t know that his cancer has returned. A 70 year-old woman who requires the aid of a walker An obese, 40 year-old mother of three young children A ex-convict who was in prison for murder You Your mother

6 Which life should be allowed to continue to exist?
Premature baby born at just Elderly man with a 26 weeks gestation terminal illness 8.6 ounces

7 How Could a Life be Terminated Legally?
Rarely do we have to “throw someone overboard,” but there are four legal ways in which we end a life due to “lack of quality”: Abortion Euthanasia Assisted Suicide Fertility Treatments

8 #1 - Abortion An abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death. The spontaneous expulsion of a fetus or embryo before the 20th week is commonly known as a miscarriage. Induced abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus by medical, surgical, or other means at any point during human pregnancy for therapeutic or elective reasons. The approximate number of induced abortions performed worldwide in 2003 was 42 million.

9 Abortion In spite of effective and widely available birth control methods, more than half of the 6 million pregnancies occurring each year in the United States are considered unplanned by the women who are pregnant. Of these unplanned pregnancies, about half end in abortion. Abortions performed prior to 9 weeks are performed either surgically (a procedure) or medically (with drugs). From 9 weeks until 14 weeks, an abortion is performed by a dilatation and suction curettage procedure. After 14 weeks, surgical abortions are performed by a dilatation and evacuation procedure. After 20 weeks of gestation, abortions can be performed by labor induction, prostaglandin labor induction, saline infusion, dilatation and extraction, or partial birth abortion.

10 Euthanasia / Assisted Suicide
What is the difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide? One way to distinguish them is to look at the last act – the act without which death would not occur. Using this distinction, if a third party performs the last act that intentionally causes a patient’s death, euthanasia has occurred. For example, giving a patient a lethal injection or putting a plastic bag over her head to suffocate her would be considered euthanasia. On the other hand, if the person who dies performs the last act, assisted suicide has taken place. Thus it would be assisted suicide if a person swallows an overdose of drugs that has been provided by a doctor for the purpose of causing death. It would also be assisted suicide if a patient pushes a switch to trigger a fatal injection after the doctor has inserted an intravenous needle into the patient’s vein.

11 #2 - Euthanasia Notice that the caption says, “It’s about mercy.”
The adults are giving this child medicine that will kill him – because both of his parents died of Aids and he has Aids Isn’t it more merciful to kill him than to let him grow up sick in an orphanage? The government will have to pay for all of his medicine and all of his living necessities.

12 Definitions of Euthanasia
Euthanasia: the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit. (The key word here is "intentional". If death is not intended, it is not an act of euthanasia) Voluntary euthanasia: When the person who is killed has requested to be killed. Non-voluntary: When the person who is killed made no request and gave no consent. Involuntary euthanasia: When the person who is killed made an expressed wish to the contrary. Assisted suicide: Someone provides an individual with the information, guidance, and means to take his or her own life with the intention that they will be used for this purpose. When it is a doctor who helps another person to kill themselves it is called "physician assisted suicide." Euthanasia By Action: Intentionally causing a person's death by performing an action such as by giving a lethal injection. Euthanasia By Omission: Intentionally causing death by not providing necessary and ordinary (usual and customary) care or food and water.

13 Examples of Euthanasia
Infanticide Abortion Premature babies Concentration Camps Severely handicapped People who are brain dead Capital punishment People who are terminally ill Severely mentally retarded Elderly Homeless Drug Addicts

14 Infanticide = Euthanasia
In the 1970’s, China was facing a population explosion; so the government ordered a “one child per family law.” The government enforced this law with forced abortions and compulsory sterilizations. In rural China where boys are valued as extra hands who will support their parents in their old age, and who will carry on the family name, girls are viewed as less desirable. If a baby if unwanted, she is abandoned, suffocated or drowned soon after birth. This preference for male children has led to approximately 10,000 girl infants being killed in China each year. Now China has a major gender-ratio problem. China refers to this as the “missing girl” phenomenon. China's orphanages are full of girls who have been abandoned

15 People who are Mentally Disabled Are sometimes Aborted or Euthanized

16 People who are Physically Disabled are sometimes Aborted or Euthanized
Quadriplegic Amputee Cystic Fibrosis

17 People who have a Physical Deformity Are sometimes Aborted or Euthanized

18 Conjoined Twins are sometimes Aborted or Euthanized

19 People who are Homeless Are sometimes the victims of Euthanasia

20 People in 3rd World Countries Are sometimes Euthanized

21 Capital Punishment is a form of Euthanasia
Electric Chair Gas Chamber Lethal Injection

22 #3 - Assisted Suicide

23 People who are quadriplegics or who are on a ventilator sometimes request Assisted Suicide

24 People who are Terminally Sick Sometimes ask for Assisted Suicide
Dr. Kevorkian’s invention: the death machine.

25 Her feeding tube was removed
People who are Brain Dead Sometimes receive non-voluntary Assisted Suicide Terri Schiavo Her feeding tube was removed in 1993, after 13 years in a vegetative state.

26 The Elderly sometimes ask for Assisted Suicide

27 People who are Drug Addicts Sometimes ask for Assisted Suicide

28 #4 - In Infertility Treatment, Some Embryos are Sacrificed while others are Saved

29 In Infertility Treatment, Frozen Embryos live in Containers awaiting Adoption, Implantation, or Disposal

30 Problems with Selective Reduction
Some people thrive even though life deals them unimaginable circumstances. 2. Who chooses whose life is not worth living?

31 Some people thrive even though life deals them unimaginable circumstances

32 Who Determines Whose Life is Worth Living
Who Determines Whose Life is Worth Living? In Nazi Germany, Hitler decided that only the Arian race was worthy of living

33 Results of one man deciding an entire group of people were not worthy to live: Nazi Germany
Separating the men from the women. A concentration camp for men.

34 Nazi Germany: People were euthanized in the gas chamber and then their bodies were burned in the furnaces Gas Chamber Furnaces

35 Nazi Germany: Euthanasia Death Camps
Bodies waiting for cremation Mass grave

36 In Summary, There are at Least Four Legal types of Selective Reduction
Abortion Assisted Suicide Euthanasia Fertility Treatments All of them are used in America and in other parts of the world today. So, what happened to Charlie Gordon in the story Flowers for Algernon is definitely possible. Since it is possible, this novel could be considered science fiction. The author, Daniel Keyes, was against judging someone just because he/she has a handicap. Daniel Keyes’ theme for the novel is that EVERYONE is worthy to live and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

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